Romeo & Juliet & Franco

When director Franco Zeffirelli released Romeo and Juliet in 1968, there was quite a hubbub about the nudity of both Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting.  On one hand, the stars were applauded for their performances – particularly being roughly the same age as the characters (Hussey was 15, Whiting was 16).  On the other hand, the film not only showed the teens in sexual situations, but also in various degrees of undress.  This led to the stars recently filing a suit against Paramount Pictures for $500 million!  You might be wondering why they are coming forward half a century later.  Apparently there’s some statute of limitations that was about to run out.  In the complaint, they claim that Zeffirelli told them that no nudity would be in the final cut.  Of course, he died in 2019 – so we can’t ask him.  But as recently as 2018, Hussey defended the nudity saying, “It was needed for the film.”  She added, “It wasn’t that big of a deal.”  The suit claims that the nudity impacted their careers.  “Plaintiffs have also suffered a lifetime of loss of earnings and other employment benefits and job opportunities, and will continue to suffer such losses.”  Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t recall either of them having thriving careers before!

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